Prospects for lower cost nuclear fission power

A Technology Review article laments that there is a slump in nuclear constuction “worldwide” and that this will mean climate targets will not be met.

What really is meant
* Japan turned off their 50 nuclear reactors and have not turned them back on and have scaled back their nuclear plans and are mostly using coal to replace the power
* Germany has turned off some and wants to turn off all of their nuclear reactors and are mostly using coal to replace the power
* China is still pushing ahead with nuclear construction plans after a 2 year pause in new construction starts

If the emerging economies like China and India do not have strong growth then there will be less new power generation built.

China is the main place making and scaling new reactor technology and driving costs down

Installed generating capacity at the end of 2012 reached 1145 GWe 19% up in two years. Capacity growth is expected to slow, reaching about 1600 GWe in 2020, and 2000 GWe in 2025.


China’s nuclear reactors tend to cost from $1500 to $2500 per KW. This is a far lower cost than in Europe or the US.
Controlled cost is a good reason that China is building about 28 out of the 69 nuclear reactors under construction in the world. China, Russia, India and South Korea are where 50 out of the 69 world nuclear reactors are being built. They all have construction costs under control and tend to be 2 to 3 times cheaper than in Europe or the USA.

CNEA estimated in May 2013 that the construction cost for two AP1000 units at Sanmen are CNY 40.1 billion ($6.54 billion), or 16,000 Yuan/kW installed ($2615/kW), instead of CNY 32.4 billion earlier estimated. This is about 20% higher than that of improved Generation II Chinese reactors, and 14% higher than latest estimate for CPR-1000, but likely to drop to about CNY 13,000/kW ($2120/kW) with series construction and localisation as envisaged. Grid purchase price is expected to exceed CNY 0.45/kWh at present costs, and drop to 0.42/kWh with reduced capital cost.

China has completed the basic technology research and published a development roadmap for a Generation IV demonstration supercritical-water-cooled reactor that could be commissioned in 2022.

This reactor could achieve costs that are up to half the cost of current reactors and have higher efficiency. They could be low cost enough to displace all future coal plant construction in China starting in 2025-2030. $900 per kilowatt is over three times cheaper than the estimated overnight cost of advanced nuclear reactors ($3100 per kilowatt) estimated by the US department of energy

The main other possibility for new lower cost nuclear fission power is Terrestrial Energy in Canada.

Canadian David LeBlanc is developing the Integral Molten Salt Reactor, or IMSR. The goal is to commercialize the Terrestrial reactor by 2021.

The Integral Molten Salt Reactor could get costs down to 0.86 cents per Kwh.

Molten Salt and Oilsands
* Using nuclear produced steam for Oil Sands production long studied
* Vast majority of oil only accessible by In-Situ methods
* No turbine island needed so 30% to 40% the capital cost saved (instead of steam to turbine for electricity just send it underground to produce oil from oilsands)
* Oil sands producers expected to pay 200 Billion$ on carbon taxes over the next 35 years, funds mandated to be spent on cleantech initiatives
* Canada Oil Sands in ground reserves of 2 trillion barrels, current estimate 10% recoverable (likely much higher with cheaper steam)
* 64 GWth nuclear to add 6.4 million bbls/day (200B$/year revenue)
* 64 GWth needed as about 200 small 300MWth MSRs
* Oil Sands a bridge to MSRs then with time, MSRs a bridge to not needing oil

There is a report by the Breakthrough Institute on how to make nuclear energy cheap

A number of new advanced reactor designs promise to bring substantial benefits
over the existing light-water fleet, such as inherent safety mechanisms and the ability
to reuse spent fuel. Yet not all features will result in lower costs. So what are the key
characteristics that will make advanced nuclear energy cheaper?

The answer lies in part in discerning what has contributed to rising costs. While
existing nuclear plants produce affordable energy — they have the second lowest
production costs in the United States — new builds have become expensive largely
because of strict building standards, environmental and safety regulations, and
labor costs. Safety features necessary for current generation reactors — especially
massive containment domes and multiply redundant cooling and backup systems —
make up a significant portion of such costs.

Cheaper systems will be
1. Safe – inherently mainly passively safe
2. Ready – supply chain ready to make the reactors
3. Modular – ready for factory and mass assembly
4. Efficient – thermally more efficient

IEA projects investment of $48 to $53 trillion in energy through 2035. Currently investment in energy is about $1.6 trillion per year.

Around $40 trillion is required in energy supply
$23 trillion is in fossil fuel extraction, transport and oil refining
$10 trillion is in power generation
– renewables ($6 trillion)
– nuclear ($1 trillion)
$7 trillion in transmission and distribution. and $8 trillion is required in energy efficiency.

$7.2 trillion in the transport and buildings sectors.

China is where extra trillions could be spent on accelerated nuclear energy construction. If cheaper nuclear reactors are proven in China then they will be exported to the developing world.

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